This is a guest blog post by Meagan Rockett. She is the Director, Client Solutions with Greenfield Services Inc. Partnering with Professional and Trade Associations, Meagan consults and develops programs to move the needle in membership marketing & engagement, event marketing & sponsorship/exhibit sales.
When it comes to appropriate marketing strategy for your association, processes can look different from one organization to the next – although, there is a ton of overlap in the methods used.
Many associations today are relying too heavily (in my opinion) on email to save the day. Yes, it is relatively inexpensive. Yes, it delivers your message to hundreds, or even thousands of contacts as soon as you hit send.
I don’t know about you – but if your inbox looks like mine, there is NO possible way to read each message that comes through. Unless it is an email from a colleague, or perhaps a group that I have a vested interest in, likely your email will end up in my trash – unread.
Marketing is no longer about simply developing and deploying a targeted message (no matter the format). It should cross-communicate with what your other departments are up to, and they should know well in advance of the information, so that they can share it as they deem appropriate as well.
Here are 5 ways to market your organization that are outside email campaigns:
- Hold meet & greets: Have a prospective member list? Are there many in your area? Or, perhaps you are traveling somewhere on business that has a heavy presence of members and non-members? Host an event. During this event, bring together engaged members, and prospective members, and give them a short presentation on what your organization has to offer. Demonstrate the quality of education by providing them with a local speaker, or perhaps asking your members to say something. Face-to-Face is often considered a last resort, but it can go a long way.
- Attend other events: Are there like-minded organizations (corporate OR nonprofit) that have a vested interest in what your organization does? Are they having events? Paid or free, you should be identifying them and attending as many as you can. Leave the planning and logistics to someone else, and use that time to network and develop relationships that can turn into paid memberships for you.
- Launch a blog: Your association has a lot to say. Most people (like me) will delete many emails from their inbox, as it gets too hectic to manage. However, if you are also publishing your opinions, research, and information online through a blog, you may gain readers and prospects that have long forgotten you. You are providing them with the format to be able to review at their leisure, and on their time, not yours.
- Don’t forget social! I have said this a lot, but just because you have created an account does not mean you are on social media. You have to be there, and sharing, tweeting, and posting to gain followers, attract interested parties, and develop new relationships. And, just because the channel exists doesn’t mean you should be there – do your homework, and focus your time on the networks that will provide you with the highest, most long-term ROI.
- Ask for referrals. Your members and committed stakeholders already know why you are so great, and what value you bring to the table. Ask them for referrals to other colleagues who may not be aware. Then, pick up the phone and call them. Build a network with the network you already have.
Have you tried any of these strategies? What were the outcomes? What else have you been doing to change the way you communicate with your industry?
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